New Cafe Has Neighbors Cheering and Jeering

People living north and south along Washington Boulevard east of La Brea, look forward to the day when they can walk to local restaurants and cafés rather than get into a car and drive to a different neighborhood. So development along this stretch of Washington Blvd. is inevitable and eagerly anticipated.  But the issue of development growing in close proximity to neighborhoods brings with it the age-old conflict between developers and locals. 

Everybody can agree that a smart cafe/restaurant and gathering place to socialize is a welcome addition to a community begging for resources like this.  And that is what Nick Spano plans to offer the community when he opens up Re/Creation Cafe on the corner of West Boulevard and Washington between La Brea and Crenshaw. 

According to Mid-City Big Life's website:

"Re/creation Cafe will be a unique art and music cafe in Mid City that will encourage patrons to play and create. The family-friendly spot will serve food, coffee, beer and wine, and will have open space for things such as live painting and workshops."

Sounds like fun!

Unfortunately not to some surrounding neighbors who are concerned with what they view as troubling details that accompany this project. 

FEB18cafe2Forty-five signatures gathered from neighbors within a 1,500-foot radius on West Blvd. in Lafayette Square, Wellington Square and 18th, expressed concern with Mr. Spano's upcoming effort to secure a liquor license for a full line of alcoholic beverages inclusive of wine and beer. They are also concerned with the inclusion of live entertainment and "workshops" and a 700-square-foot outdoor patio. 

Unlike many of the commercial buildings that house local cafes and restaurants, this building which used to be a dry cleaners, is one building away from residential homes along Washington to the west and one home away from residences behind it. Directly across the street sits an apartment building on the east side of West Boulevard.  Some neighbors are concerned that the 11 pm closing hour during the week and later on the weekends, will make the conversational noise from people drinking outdoors along with the additional sound of music spilling out onto the patio, an unwelcome part of the evening background noise for a neighborhood that quiets down when the day traffic is gone.  (for example “Paper or Plastic Café” operates between the hours of 7 am and 10 pm, Blu Elephant Café operates between the hours of 6:15 am and 9 pm, and many of the nearby Starbucks operate between 5:30 am and 10 pm.)  There is also a concern with the problem of parking.  So far, the restaurant has been unable to secure a designated parking space so parking will be in front of the residents along Washington and West creating a problem with potentially loud customers milling about at closing time and picking up their cars late into the evening. 

Mr. Spano says the real issue is change is coming and some people are often resistant. He assured that the neighbors had nothing to worry about and these concerns are not an issue.  The homes along Washington and West Blvd have driveways that allow the locals to park off the street and although he is making an effort to secure designated parking, the street parking is plentiful and should be unintrusive. He insists the restaurant will only sell beer and wine, and any sound from the patio will be buffered by the two-story building between him and the residents along Washington. He owns the one floor home behind the restaurant and feels this should buffer the patio sounds from the residents south of him. He feels confident the patio sounds will not be from rowdy young drinkers but the measured tones from adults in the community  enjoying the opportunity to get out and socialize locally.  He also claims to have a longer list of petitioners supporting the Cafe as well as the support of the Mid City Neighborhood Council (of which he's a member). He offered assurances that if there were to be any issues he would be happy to address them with the community as they come up.    

Change is coming and residents will need to accommodate and adjust. This is often made easier and less contentious if developers understood that they too have an obligation to take the concerns of long-time residents seriously, consider  the possibility of accepting the restrictions  of certain environments and consider modifying their vision as well. A little compromise on both sides goes a long way.  But change is coming! Hopefully to make things better for neighbors not worse.

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Established in August of 2008 by writerartist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.

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